Focus/20: Design without frontiers

Focus/20 has a new format. While trade visitors can book in advance for a safe, inspiring physical experience, the event will offer a six day feast of inspiration for non professional design lovers around the world who can now access the event online from the comfort of their own homes.

We asked Country Life's Executive Editor, Giles Kime, for an insight into what's in store.

FOCUS/20 Schedule

Sunday 13 September: Virtual launch

Monday 14 – Friday 18 September: Online programme and tailored visits for trade professionals. See the full Focus/20 schedule.

Are you looking forward to this year’s Focus/20

GK: Yes, I’ve been going to Focus for almost 20 years and this Autumn I’m looking forward to seeing its transition to an event that is both actual and virtual! We access so much online now, that it’s going to be really exciting to discover the possibilities of using the web as a gateway to seeing new collections and inspiration from some of the design world’s greatest figures.

There are certainly a few virtual events that I suspect might never have happened in the real world – and would certainly never have attracted the huge global audiences that this year’s programme will offer.

This year’s highlights include some of the most iconic names in interiors from Emma Burns, leading light at iconic British interior designers Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler to Michael S Smith, one of the most celebrated decorators in the US who transformed the interiors of The White House.

What are the highlights for you? 

Well, one of them is my interview with Emma Burns (at 4pm on Wednesday 16 September), who I consider to be one of the most talented and intuitive designers working today. She’s a beacon of the very best of classic English style. The talk is free to view — you can register for a place at

Also, I’m so much looking forward to hearing a vast range of really inspirational figures, as well as a new programme of Right Here, Right Now events that will focus on specific areas with experts such as Sally Storey, Porta Romana and Original BTC on lighting, Bernie de Le Cuona on trends in textiles, David Harris of Andrew Martin on colour.

Emma Burns and Giles Kime.

And what about new collections? 

That’s the magnet that’s been drawing me back to Focus every year. I love the thrill and excitement of seeing collections unveiled – and there are some particular highlights such as Ben Pentreath’s fresh take of William Morris at Morris & Co., new designs from GP & J Baker, as well as a host of other really inventive designers such as Vaughan, Julian Chichester and Turnstyle Designs.

What are the other attractions of the Design Centre, both in its physical and virtual incarnation? 

It’s the beating heart of the interior design world; I can’t think of anywhere else on earth that offers the same depth and breadth of furniture, textiles, wallpaper, lighting. But one of its most unique commodities is inspiration and there’ll be plenty of that available during Focus/20.

For more details on the online programme and to catch up on talks, masterclasses and webinars, as well as Discovery Tours, Style Radar discussions and sessions with the Personal Shopper, visit